Tag Archive: Sculpture

Video and photographs by Shaun Edward

The 59th Sausalito Art Festival is open for business this Labor Day Weekend. Of course, this fact will already have been figured out the hard way by anyone trying to go anywhere in Sausalito this weekend. The Art Festival is by far the biggest annual event held is Sausalito, and the scale of the festival is expanded thanks open gallery viewings around the town.

Getting to the festival can be an adventure in itself. Those who drove could chose from paying ten dollars to park far away and take the provided shuttle buses, or could pay a staggering twenty dollars t0 to park near the festival entrance–although by 2pm the twenty dollar parking lot appeared to be totally full. Of course, many chose to walk to the festival as well, but those who did had to keep a constant eye out for the “shuttles,” which were actually enormous tour busses barreling down the industrial backroads that lead the festival entrance. There were parking-control type people pretty much everywhere you looked, many feeling extra-authorative in their official-looking but powerless reflective vests.

Pay a slightly staggering twenty five dollar entrance fee, and the stress and hubbub of the parking lots transforms into a world of high art and big money behind the festival gates. There’s no mistaking festival’s target demographic from the moment you enter, in no small part thanks to the Aston Martin and Jaguar convertibles on display just inside the festival entrance.

Sausalito Art Festival Entrance

As expected, the art on exhibition doesn’t come cheap either. While there certainly are pieces available in the sub-500 dollar range, the number only goes up from there–five-figure-plus pieces were not hard to spot.

But this is not to take away from the quality of the art on display, because much of it was truly amazing. Sausalito has a vibrant art scene, and local artists were well represented, like painter Anne Davis of Sausalito.  I don’t know how much a booth costs for the Sausalito Art Festival, but artists must be invited and you can be sure that it does’t come cheap, so it’s nice to see local artists represented.

Artists made the trip from far away as well. One of Sausalito Waterfront’s favorites was Jeffrey Zachman, who’s kinetic sculptures drew a constant crowd to his booth. Zachmann made the trip from Minnesota. Other favorites included Adam Homan of Tuscon, Arizona, whose metal-scupture critters stare back at you with beady fiber optic eyes. “You are not just looking at art,” his business card reads. “Art is looking at you!”

We’re big fans of metal work at Sausalito Waterfront. Bruce Macdonald’s booth was hard to miss, given that it was covered in the shiny metal panels that Macdonald works with. Similarly impressive was Michael Gard, who was hard to miss thanks to the delicately constructed wire human forms that hung around his booth. Another favorite was Theodore Gall’s elaborate cast sculptures–many of which were interactive.

Floating People Sculptures Sausalito Art Festival

If wandering around looking at art you couldn’t afford got boring, there were plenty of distractions available. Alcohol–though pricey–seemed to be flowing freely, and there were clearly some festival goes who’d had a drink or three too many. Not that it would be a hard mistake to make, as there was somewhere to exchange your hard-earned for booze virtually anywhere you looked, including a “food” truck where attractive women served patrons Kahlua or rum, as well as a dockside bar offering a huge variety of mixed drinks.

Drinking aside, there were two stages, the lesser of the two was surround by artist’s booths and played appropriate-but-forgettable music during our visit. The other, the Main Stage, was somewhat less tasteful. During our visit, the Main Stage–and indeed most of the festival–was dominated by the wafting sounds of hard rock songs from the stuck-in-the-80s cover band. While there was without a doubt a good crowd enjoying rocking out to songs from their glory years, equally amusing was the man muttering “It’s way too loud” as he wandered away from the stage, or the comedy of watching an artist haplessly located right off the Main Stage try and talk about the intimacies of his jewelry with interested couples over the blasting Bon Jovi covers.

Face Sculpture Sausalito Art Festival

There was also food, and while we chose not to partake in throwing any more of our money into Sausalito’s coffers, there certainly appeared to be a great variety to choose from, ranging from whole smoked turkey legs to crab cakes and veggie wraps.

But as is too often the case in Sausalito, to get the most out of the festival takes a lot more than the budgets of many have to spare. To truly experience all the Sausalito Art Festival has to offer would easily turn into a hundred-dollar date after the entrance fees, a few rounds of drinks and some food, not to mention the parking or ferry costs. Just hope she doesn’t settle on that thousand dollar oil painting.


Sausalito Art Festival is an expensive labor day tradition

Sausalito’s 58th annual art festival took place over Labor Day weekend, bringing together artists from as far away as Wisconsin, Seattle and Los Angeles. It was, in a word, expensive.

Just to get into the festival cost 20 dollars a day—although if for some reason you wanted to be there all weekend, 30 dollar, three day passes were also available. But the entry fee wasn’t even the worst part. On top of that, if you drove to the festival, you’d have the to pay five dollars to park far away and take a less-than-lovely stroll through the industrial waterfront. If you wanted to impress your date, you could opt to pay a whopping ten dollars to park closer to the festival.

All this parking drama would make sense in San Francisco, where parking is at a premium. But parking in Sausalito is usually not a problem. But in order to pump up revenue from the event (or maybe to appease the natives who don’t want cars in their neighborhoods) signs like this were posted everywhere you’d normally be able to park:


These were all over Sausalito

If you were smart enough to ride your bike there, rest assured that you wouldn’t have to park it yourself—such hard labor is not fit for the posh attendees. Instead, the Marin Bicycle Coalition operated a bicycle valet parking service, which is basically a fancy way of saying that they’d take your bike and line it up next to a bunch of other ones behind a fence. But still, it seemed to be a popular service.

Valet bicycle parking was provided by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Once inside the festival, one thing stood out: The uniformity of the crowd. Without getting offensive, let’s just say that this was not the most diverse crowd I’ve encountered. Overwhelmingly middle-aged or older, dressed in collared shirts and expensive looking summer dresses, they typified the Sausalito you’d imagine.

There was one standout, however. The art was excellent. Amazing, in fact. And it had better be, given how much it cost. Pieces selling for 10,000 dollars were commonplace. And it was expensive for the artists too. Metal sculptor Holly Rodes Smithey had made the trip to Sausalito from Bend, Oregon. She wouldn’t say how much her booth cost, but “it’s expensive,” she said. “It’s always a gamble, but we’ve sold a few pieces.” Still, she wasn’t sure she’d be back next year.

The art ranged from the typical paintings and blown-up photographs on canvas to the more creative, like artist Marc Sjan’s unnervingly realistic statues, and Scott and Naomi Schoenherr’s cute and original, hand painted ceramic hot rods. I asked Scott Schoenherr how often he was able to sell a 1,200 dollar ceramic car. “Uh…yeah…” he replied. “Not much of a market, but you know…” At that price, you don’t need to sell many to make it worth your while.

Marc Sijan's sculptures are sometimes more realistic then you'd like.

There were other things to do too, just in case the art got to be too much: You could eat. And drink. But you’d better have a fat wallet. Fish and chips was nine dollars, and a glass of champagne was 8 dollars. There was also a selection of beers and other food, but none of it was cheap.

Simply put, the Sausalito Art Festival is aimed at a different demographic: Rich. My roommate literally overheard one man commenting on the price of the tickets. “It keeps the rabble out,” he allegedly said. To this demographic, the show was a roaring success. The art was beautiful, and I’m sure the food and wine was delicious. And you could always bid on an Aston Martin in the silent auction.

If you didn't feel like buying art, you could always bid on this Aston Martin Rapide instead.

But for the younger and poorer residents of Sausalito? Well, on Monday, there was a concert and picnic in Marin City, right across the freeway from Sausalito. It was free.